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Andong village still divided

Andong village still divided

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Residents dismantle their homes at the Andong village relocation site, in Dangkor district’s Kouk Roka commune, yesterday after initially protesting against plans for a housing project.

More than 10 families in Dangkor district’s Andong village have agreed to dismantle their homes, one day after protesting against local authorities who attempted to demolish their housing.

The housing project, which would build 50 new concrete homes in the village, requires the affected families to pay a monthly rent of 96,000 riel (US$23) for five years to assume ownership. The program is spearheaded by the Urban Poor Development Fund, a joint venture of civil society groups and the Phnom Penh Municipality.

Den Kimchhuon, 41, agreed to dismantle his house because he felt the housing upgrade was worthwhile.

“We should take the risk as it’s our opportunity to have one concrete house to live in like others,” he said.

Te Phat, an official with the UPDF, said the payment plan would not require villagers to pay on a monthly basis if they fell on financial hardship.

“We won’t force them to pay us with full payments every month,” she said. “The villagers can pay us based on their ability outside the five year [plan].”

More than 30 families, however, have not agreed to dismantle their homes for the project.

Sok Voeum, a 41-year-old vendor of snails and morning glory, was skeptical of whether he’d obtain land rights. Like the other Andong villagers, he was forcibly evicted from Sambok Chab in Phnom Penh in 2006 by authorities working on behalf of a developer.

“The authority just said that our houses would not be seized,” said Sok Voeum. “But how about in the next five years when we couldn’t afford to pay them – they would take it back.”

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